The Bible describes a thousand-year reign in which Jesus will rule the Earth in perfect peace and justice. Theologians have borrowed a Latin phrase to describe this epoch—“Millennium.” It is made of up two words mille—meaning “thousand”—and annum—meaning “years.” In our English Bibles you won’t find the word “millennium” but you will find a reference to a literal thousand-year period six times in Revelation 20:1-10.
Admittedly, there is not much preaching on the millennium today, which is odd considering the fact that the Bible has so much to say about it. In fact, Dr. Dwight Pentecost, who devoted his entire life to the study of prophecy, wrote: “A larger body of prophetic Scripture is devoted to the subject of the Millennium, developing its character and conditions, than any other one subject. Therefore, the Millennial Age demands considerable attention.”
So what will life be like for those thousand years? If we went through the myriad of verses in the Old Testament that spoke on this subject I think you’d be stunned. Someone has remarked that there is so much written of the Millennial Kingdom that if we were to collect all the verses into a single book they would about the size of the epistles section in the New Testament.
· A time of peace (Is. 2:4)
In the garden of the United Nations headquarters in New York City, stands a dramatic sculpture—actually it’s a 1959 gift from the old Soviet Union—which bears a portion of the words of Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” The sculpture shows the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand, and in the other, a sword that he is beating into a plow. It expresses secular man’s utopian aspiration for world peace.
Yet since that statue was erected we have endured the Vietnam War, The Gulf War, the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict, countless tribal wars in Africa, 9/11, the Iraq War and the battle against terrorism. Those hoping for UN to get all the nations of the world to wear peace charms and sing “kum-by-yah” have a better chance of seeing pigs fly.
But here’s the problem with that statue: Isaiah 2:4 has a first part to the verse that is omitted. It begins: “He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people.” Isaiah 2 is about the Second Coming of Christ and the establishing of His millennial reign. They are missing the most important part, namely a person—Jesus Christ!
Only the Prince of Peace, has the power to make armies lay down their weapons. Have you ever noticed that when Christ gave the disciples the model prayer, He didn’t command them to pray for peace? Instead he told them to pray, “Your kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Only when Christ returns will there be a lasting universal peace, so when you pray and end with those words you are actually invoking the hastening of the Millennial Kingdom.
· A time of prosperity (Ez. 34:26-27; 36:29-30, 34-35; Joel 2:24; Amos 9:13)
In 2013 the World Health Organization reported that although farmers are able to produce enough food to sustain the world’s 7+ billion people, poverty, war and a host of other problems prevent people from being able to receive a healthy diet. However, during the Millennium it appears that God will remove these hindrances. The entire world will be turned into a kind of paradise reminiscent of the verdant fields of Eden.
The Old Testament prophets filled their writings with imagery of agricultural abundance during this period. Ezekiel speaks of plentiful rainfall, trees loaded with an abundance of ripe fruit and land that once desolate now under the authority of Christ becoming fertile (Ez. 34:26-27). Joel writes that during the Millennium, “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil” (2:24).
Amos 9:13 adds another interesting picture, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.” Notice that Amos says during this time there will be no dead space of winter between planting and harvesting. Imagine harvesting a crop at the beginning of the week and planting another at the end.
· A time of prolonged life (Is. 65:20; Zech. 8:4-5)
According to the numbers, the average worldwide life expectancy in 2013 was 71 (68 for men and 73 for women). However, in this golden age, people who survived the Tribulation period and come into the Lord’s kingdom will experience longevity like the pre-Flood patriarchs enjoyed in Genesis. Isaiah tells us that a man who is a hundred years old will be considered a child, “No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old” (65:20).
Zechariah tells us that along with increased years there will also be a baby boom during the Millennium as well, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (8:4-5).
· A time of praise (Ps. 98:4-9)
During the Millennium the whole world will be filled with praise to Jesus. “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise . . . Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Ps. 98:4-9).
Some people wonder why it’s important that Jesus reign on earth for 1,000 years in an earthly kingdom. Prophetic scholar, Charles Ryrie answers, “Because Christ must triumph in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated. His rejection by the rulers of this world was on the earth. His exaltation must also be on this earth. And so it shall be when He comes to rule the world in righteousness. He has waited long for His Kingdom; soon He shall receive it.”